Sgt. Basilone

Who is John Basilone?

John Basilone was a United States Marine Gunnery Sergeant who received the nation’s highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for heroism during the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II. He was the only Marine enlisted man to receive both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross in WWII. He has received many honors including being the namesake for streets, military locations, and a United States Navy destroyer.

John Basilone served two tours in WWII, one in the United States Army in July 1934 wherehe completed his three-year enlistment with service in the Philippines, where he was a champion boxer. In 1940, he enlisted in the US Marine Corps where he was sent to Guadalcanal after a brief stop in Cuba. During the Battle for Henderson Field, his unit came under attack by a regiment of approximately 3,000 Japanese. On October 24, 1942, enemy forces began a frontal attack using machine guns, grenades, and mortars against the Americans. Basilone commanded two sections of machine guns that fought for the next two days until only Basilone and two other Marines were left standing.

John Basilone, known as Manila John, was raised in Raritan, NJ where he is honored each year with a parade.






Nickname(s): “Manila John“

Born: November 4, 1916 in Buffalo, New York

Died: February 19, 1945 (aged 28) †, Iwo Jima, Japan

Spouse: Lena Mae Riggi (1944–1945)

Place of burial: Arlington National Cemetery


Allegiance: United States of America

Service/branch: United States Marine Corps, United States Army

Years of service:

  • 1940–1945 (U.S. Marine Corps)
  • 1936–1939 (U.S. Army)

Rank: Gunnery Sergeant


  • US Army: Company D, 16th Infantry
  • US Army: Company D, 31st Infantry
  • USMC: Company D, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division
  • USMC: Company C, 1st Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division


  • World War II
  • Guadalcanal Campaign
  • Battle of Henderson Field
  • Battle of Iwo Jima


  • Medal of Honor
  • Navy Cross
  • Purple Heart Medal

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